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Dwight McNeil scored an outstanding goal for our under-23 last night in the Professional Development League game against Sheffield United at Curzon Ashton, but it was a rare shining light for us on what proved to be a disastrous night as we fell to a heavy 6-1 defeat.

Both Dean Marney and Nahki Wells were included, a third run out for both with Marney playing for just over an hour and Wells, as he did against the same club last week in a behind closed doors friendly, playing the full ninety minutes.

1718 burnley dwight mcneil 00 500x500We were behind last night with just over a minute and a half gone when United striker Tyler Smith, who we failed to contain all night, scored his and their first. After that it all settled down and the play, for a while, was even although we struggled to create any real opportunities while they always looked a threat.

We actually reached the 42nd minute before they scored a second, this time Smith getting an assist for Nathan Thomas and by half time he’d got himself another assist, this time leaving Oliver Greaves with the easiest of opportunities.

That was probably the points in the bag, but we made a bright enough start to the second half before normal service resumed with Smith converting a ball in from the right and it was 5-0 just past the hour with Smith completing his hat trick.

The fifth goal prompted coach Michael Duff, who had looked a forlorn figure on the touchline, to make a triple change. Just minutes later we pulled one back when McNeil (pictured), who had scored the goal in the 1-0 win against Leeds in our previous game at Curzon Ashton, fired home from 25-yards with an outstanding effort.

We twice came close to getting another but it was Sheffield United who had the last say when Greaves got his second and their sixth to give us our heaviest defeat of the season in this league.

Duff was far from happy. After the game he said: “It was a harsh lesson. If you want to turn up and not run around, not head it and not kick it, it doesn’t matter what you do with the ball.”

He praised both Marney and Wells, who he thought were outstanding, but he had words of warning for the rest. “We’ve had a month and people have said nice things and all of a sudden you take your foot off the gas and that’s what happens.

“It’s a stark reminder of the reality of where they are. They need to remember sometimes that they are representing a Premier League football club and Burnley Football Club.

“One thing that the first team, who we are aspiring to be, is, that no matter what happens, whatever the result, Man City away, they know they have been in a game. I’m not sure Sheffield United will have walked off the pitch having the same thoughts.”

The teams were;

Burnley: Adam Legzdins, Arlen Birch, Harry Flowers, Oliver Younger, Ali Koiki, Olatunde Bayode (Nashé Chakwana 63), Mark Howarth, Dean Marney (Rahis Nabi 63), Dwight McNeil, Harry Limb (Khius Metz 63), Nahki Wells. Subs not used: Aidan Stone, James Clarke.

Sheffield United: Jake Eastwood, Sam Graham, Ben Heneghan, Keenan Ferguson, Jake Bennett (George Cantrill 79), Regan Slater, Harvey Gilmore (Jordan Doherty 79), Nathan Thomas, Rhys Norrington-Davies, Tyler Smith (David Parkhouse 74), Oliver Greaves. Subs not used: Hugo Warhurst, Cameron Hawkes.

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